Two girlfriends of former Mizuho International Plc investment banker Thomas Ammann were found not guilty of illegally trading on tips from him about Canon Inc. (7751)’s acquisition of OCE NV.
The women nearly doubled the amount they invested and then paid half of their profits to Ammann, the U.K. Financial Services Authority, which prosecuted the case, had said during the trial in London. Neither woman knew Ammann was dating the other simultaneously.
Jessica Mang, a 30-year-old British chiropractor, and Christina Weckwerth, 44, were both cleared today by the jury after a four-week trial. Both cried when the verdicts were returned and declined to comment afterward.
Ammann, a German national who worked on the Mizuho mergers and acquisitions team that advised Canon on the OCE deal, pleaded guilty earlier this year to insider trading and encouraging Mang and Weckwerth to commit insider trading. Canon, the Tokyo-based maker of cameras and photocopiers, agreed to buy OCE in a 730 million-euro ($931.8 million) deal in November 2009.
The FSA said that Ammann tried to avoid being caught by having his girlfriends make the trades.
“The charges against Weckwerth and Mang were serious and we considered that the evidence provided a proper basis to put the case before a jury,” Tracey McDermott, the regulator’s director of enforcement and financial crime, said in a statement.
Weckwerth, who has British and Cypriot citizenship, took in nearly 2 million pounds ($3.2 million) after investing 1 million euros before the deal in 2009, the FSA said at trial. She argued that she bought shares of OCE only after she researched Ammann’s recommendation.
Her own calculations showed her the shares, which were trading at about 2.50 euros in early 2009, were worth about 7 euros based on their net asset value, she said. She said she didn’t know his work was related to the tips and that he repeatedly told her the shares were undervalued.
Mang, who got back 65,000 pounds on a 39,000-pound stake, said she bought the shares at Ammann’s request because she wanted to show him that she trusted him and was trying to build their relationship. She met him in July 2009 at the London nightclub Movida and said she thought soon after that they were dating exclusively.
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